College Basketball Best Bets for Today (How to Bet NIT Semifinals)

Nov 19, 2021; Charleston, South Carolina, USA; St. Bonaventure Bonnies guard Jalen Adaway (33)
Nov 19, 2021; Charleston, South Carolina, USA; St. Bonaventure Bonnies guard Jalen Adaway (33) / David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Sure the Final Four doesn't tip off until Saturday, but we still have a few college basketball games going on in the interim.

The NIT Tournament semifinals goes down on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden with St. Bonaventure facing off against Xavier and Texas A&M meeting Washington State in the late game.

I have plays on both games, so let's get to it.

Odds courtesy of WynnBET Sportsbook

Column Record: 120-128 (-12.7 Units)

St. Bonaventure (-125) vs. Xavier

I think this matchup sets up well for the Bonnies, who play a matchup zone that should create an issue for a Xavier team that is without their lead guard Paul Scruggs.

St. Bonaventure's defense is built to keep players out of the paint and shoot over their zone, allowing the 20th highest 3-point rate in the country. This will be problematic for the Musketeers, who shoot outside the top 100 from beyond the arc. Without their dynamic guard, the Big East club is going to struggle to find answers.

On the other side, the Bonnies are built for success against Xavier, who don't generate a ton of turnovers and the team is playing their best ball of the season, ranking 59th in Bart Torvik's adjusted efficiency rating dating back to Feb. 14. In that same time span, the Musketeers are 106th.

Something that may not be factored in is the crowd of St. Bonaventure, who travels incredibly well and has embraced this NIT run. A local team, I expect a large contingent of Bonnies' fans on Tuesday night.

While I wrote up that I leaned towards the small spread, but I ended up playing 2 units on the ML in hopes that I can avoid a close game bad beat.

PICK: St. Bonaventure ML (-125) 2U

Texas A&M (-130) vs. Washington State

These are two teams that are looked at favorably in the advanced metrics community, but there is no team hotter than Texas A&M. The team is 14th in adjusted efficiency dating back to February 14th, including 12th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to Bart Torvik.

The team is top 10 in forcing turnovers and is great at defending the perimeter, allowing the 54th lowest 3-point percentage in the country. Matched up with a Wazzu team that loves to hoist from deep (41st highest 3-point rate), the Aggies defense along their 3-point line will be pivotal.

On the other side, the emerging A&M offense will be the key in this one. The team is strong on the offensive glass and getting to the free throw line, ranking top 50 in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and free throw rate this season.

With that being said, Wazzu is elite on defense as well, ranking 26th in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency metric, so the Aggies offense will have to show up. This game should be physical and focused on defense, but I think it's A&M's offense that will be the difference, so I'll go with the small favorite on Tuesday night. The Aggies are the best team in the country at generating breakaway scoring opportunities and also have the more reliable shot profile (11th in proximity of shots while Wazzu is outside the top 300, per Haslemetrics).

I'll ride with Williams' surging A&M club to move onto the NIT finals with their swarming defense and budding offense.

PICK: Texas A&M ML (-130)

You can find all of Reed's bets